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Blackjack Strategy

Basic Strategy

Understanding and perfecting basic blackjack strategy can make the difference between winning and losing. Outside of poker, where the players compete against each other, not the house, blackjack is the only casino table game where the player can affect the outcome by playing skillfully.

While card-counting may produce slightly greater results, basic blackjack strategy is much easier and can be mastered by learning a few key rules. Luck still plays a major role in the outcome of a game, but basic blackjack strategy, over the long term gives a player the best chance of winning.

Playing situations can vary widely at different casinos and basic blackjack strategy can be altered for the different conditions you may find. By altering basic blackjack strategy, you will be able to achieve the maximum benefits possible. Basic blackjack strategy players looking to get the best of the casino should look for the tables that provide the best opportunity even before they sit down to play.

The single most important variable a player needs to consider is the number of decks used. You will want to play at games that use as few decks as possible. One deck is the ideal, but two or four decks can also provide positive play. Games dealt with six or eight decks are more difficult to beat. Keep in mind that the number of decks used in a game can vary not only from casino to casino, but also from table to table within the same casino.

Rules also vary between jurisdictions, and, ideally, you should alter your basic blackjack strategy to account for these variations. The most important rule variation is whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17. For instance, in Downtown Las Vegas, dealers hit soft 17, which adds to the house advantage. On the Vegas Strip, in Atlantic City, and in most online casinos, dealers stand on all 17s.

Another important consideration to take into account is whether there are any restrictions on doubling down or splitting pairs. Some casinos only allow players to double down on card totals of 10 and 11. This is another rule that adds to the house edge. In some locations, doubling down is only permitted on 11, which further reduces a player’s chance of winning. Other casinos restrict the number of times players can split pairs. Since the theory is that players only split pairs when they have the advantage to begin with, the casino that denies additional splits is trying to limit their exposure. It is for that reason that many casinos also bar players from doubling down after splitting, which is another option that adds to the players’ advantage.

Whenever possible, players should look for the most liberal rules when scouting out a positive blackjack situation.

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